i have stumbled upon a forum post by Pin Wang, which seems to echo my thoughts. here it goes:
What I have realized from my experiences is that getting a promotion to Associate Producer (or whatever position you seek), has a lot less to do with a checklist of things you need to do, and more about how you conduct yourself as a professional. I think the same applies with breaking in as well. There is no shortage of people wanting to work in the industry, but there is definitely a shortage of people who are self-motivated and have high expectations for themselves when it comes to their work. Unfortunately I have encountered quite a few people with the opposite attitude: “grunts” that constantly seek outside guidance on “what to do” and “if its good enough.” Worse (and this is something that several managers have complained to me about), is a sense of “entitlement” when it comes to raises, promotions, recognition, etc. That is, feeling like you deserve something because of the time you have been at a company and that your hidden potential has been squandered on a menial job (which you have achieved mediocrity at).
The truth is that at many companies, and especially in the games industry, you are constantly given the opportunity to “step up” and perform duties or help out with tasks that are outside of your job description. My advice to newcomers is to take those opportunities regardless of how busy you are and whether you get paid for the overtime you may have to put in. Investing in your image as a professional who can get things done, with quality, on time, and with flexibility is, in my opinion, the key factor in advancing in the games industry.
Maybe these are things that apply to any kind of job, but in my conversation with managers (and in my own short experience as project lead for a game mod project), this is definitely the deciding factor. Any number of years of “industry experience” can never trump “can I trust him to do this job well, and can I trust him to do it without constant management?” I think by and large, people who qualify in relation to that question are the ones I’ve seen get promotions.
you can read the full text at the original forum post.